I was recently having a conversation with a number of artistic peers, discussing the impact of our personal and community histories on our art and artistic process. I don’t remember who the question was raised by, but the group consisted of a mix of racial/ethnic/gender/sexual identities, making for good conversation.
In general we all agreed that our various personal and community histories – of religion, race, ethnicity, language, geography, class, sexuality, gender, and so on and on and on and on – played a factor in how we approached creating art. While it was a great conversation, and fodder for more discussion, I’m less interested in that than in something which happened after.
During the conversation, I said, “It’s been interesting going from presenting as part of a strong, privileged group – white, heterosexual, male – to an oppressed group: queer, trans, female. I try to both be conscious of and artistically honor that oppression while being aware of the privilege I still do posses.”
Then, while giving someone a ride home – who identifies as black, female, lesbian – she turned to me and said, “Your comment really surprised me, since I don’t think of you as white.”